It was reported today that Starwood Hotels and Resorts will become the first chain of hotels to allow its guests to unlock doors with the help of their smartphones. Here, smartphones will be used as a hotel room key able to unlock doors through Bluetooth connectivity.
As of now, this function is only available at 10 Aloft, Element and W Hotels but it was revealed that it was going to expand to around 140 more hotels under those brands by the middle of 2015.
Apart from Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Hilton Worldwide is the only hotel to acknowledge its plans that smartphones will be used as a hotel room key. It also revealed that it is planning to roll out this app at the end of 2015 for some Hilton hotels inside the U.S. Hilton did not say how many hotels will be using this method of locking and unlocking doors. It did say that 4 of its brands will have access to the service: Hilton, Conrad, Canopy and Waldorf Astoria.
Mark Vondrasek, from Starwood digital initiatives, had this to say about the fact that a smartphone will be used as a hotel room key:
Guests want this because it tends to make their lives easier. The capability to go right to your space, gives them back time.
The switch from traditional keys to smartphone room keys will not be easy or cheap. Using smartphones as a hotel room key means that every hotel room will need to have a new lock that will have Bluetooth capabilities to communicate with smartphones.
The issue of security has also been discussed when talking about how smartphones will be used as a hotel room key. In short, a smartphone should not be able to unlock the door accidentally, which is why the introduction of a touch pad was brought into the discussion.
Although the technology will come quite soon to hotels from the Starwood Hotels and Resorts, there is still a long way ahead until the technology is incorporated in hotels around the world, analysts think.